Monday, October 16, 2017

Slice and Dice: Eggplant

By early October, I start to crave comfort foods from around the globe. Eggplants come in an endless variety - from Biancas to Santanas toPingtung Long – making it easy to travel the world. I bake them in parmesan, roast them for baba ghanoush, and saute them until they're meaty enough to satisfy my favorite carnivores. 

How to Select and Store Eggplant

Although eggplant is available year-round, its peak season is during the late summer and early fall. When selecting the right one, be sure to check that the skin is smooth and taut. If it’s ripe, gently (and affectionately) squeezing the flesh will leave a shallow, temporary indentation.

How to Peel, Slice, and Salt Eggplant

In the U.S., the voluptuous pear-shaped globe eggplant is the easiest to find. Its purple-black skin becomes chewy when cooked, so it’s often removed. Its springy, porous flesh sucks in oil, so to keep it from becoming greasy when cooked, eggplant is often salted, rinsed, and dried before cooking.

Place the eggplant on its side on a cutting board. Slice of the stem and the rounded end.

Using a vegetable peeler or pairing knife, remove the skin in long strips, moving lengthwise from the stem to bottom end. Or leave it on and skip to the next step.

Slice across the eggplant crosswise.

Place slices in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt -- enough to ensure each slice has been dusted. This keeps it from becoming spongy when cooked. Let the eggplant sit with the salt for about 15 minutes. (You will see water beads appear on the eggplant's surface.)

Rinse the salt from the eggplant and thoroughly dry it before cooking.

How to Cube Eggplant

Place the eggplant on its side on a cutting board, slice off the ends, and remove the skin with a vegetable peeler, as above.

Rest the bottom end of the eggplant on the cutting board. Cut down through the eggplant lengthwise, every half inch, to create planks.

Stack two planks on the cutting board and slice across them lengthwise, creating half-inch wide sticks.

Cut across the sticks, every half inch, to create half-inch cubes.

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